October 19, 2017 [LINK / comment]
Last Saturday (October 14), I led an Augusta Bird Club field trip to Chimney Hollow, a wooded ravine in the foothills about twelve miles west of Staunton. (I led a field trip there last April 28, and since then only made one brief stop there.) It was chilly and cloudy at first, but later the skies cleared. Two other guys from the club joined me, and we had a fair but not spectacular day. The highlights were seeing my first Brown Creeper and Winter Wren of the fall season, but unfortunately, I couldn't get a photo of either species. We saw several Ruby-crowned Kinglets, but most of them stayed at least 20 feet above the ground, and none cooperated with my picture-taking. I got decent photos of a Blue-headed Vireo and Eastern Phoebes, but that was about it.
Around 11:30 we returned to the trail head and then drove over to nearby Braley's Pond. I was hoping to see something on the water, but (except for a dozen or so turtles basking in the sun) it was empty that day. Nevertheless, I did get a brief view of a few Dark-eyed Juncos in a bush, and I heard a Louisiana Waterthrush, which was rather late in the season for that warbler species. (Those are not included in my eBird report, which was strictly for Chimney Hollow.)
Chimney Hollow Trail, Augusta, Virginia, US Oct 14, 2017 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM Protocol: Traveling 2.0 mile(s) Comments: Augusta Bird Club field trip 20 species Turkey Vulture -- 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker -- 2 Downy Woodpecker -- 3 Hairy Woodpecker -- 1 Northern Flicker -- 1 Pileated Woodpecker -- 2 Eastern Phoebe -- 3 Blue-headed Vireo -- 5 Blue Jay -- 5 American Crow -- 2 Black-capped Chickadee -- 5 Tufted Titmouse -- 6 White-breasted Nuthatch -- 3 Brown Creeper -- 1 Winter Wren -- 1 Carolina Wren -- 4 Golden-crowned Kinglet -- 4 Ruby-crowned Kinglet -- 6 Yellow-rumped Warbler -- 5 Eastern Towhee -- 2 View this checklist online at ebird.org
Late in the afternoon that same day, I went over to Bell's Lane for the first time in at least a couple weeks, and was pleasantly surprised to see my first White-crowned Sparrows of the season. There were a few other interesting birds as well, but none of the Palm Warblers that I was hoping for.
Yesterday morning, I joined Jo King and several other birders at McCormick's Mill on the southern edge of Augusta County. The weather was just about perfect, with blue skies. Just as we arrived, we saw two Savannah Sparrows perched on a fence post, a great photo op. Throughout the morning, bird activity was quite high, and we chalked up a good total: 37 species were recorded altogether. Some species were especially abundant: Jo tabulated 38 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 35 Tree Swallows, and 25 Cedar Waxwings! One of the highlights was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (prob. male), one day after I saw my first one of the season in "our" back yard. We also saw a White-throated Sparrow (prob. juvenile) near the upper farm pond, and that was my first of the season.
NOTE: Both of the photo montages seen above, along with individual bird photos, can be see on the Wild Birds yearly page.